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Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: June ::
Re: Pronunciation
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0673.  Tuesday, 17 June 1997.

[1]     From:   Jonathan Hope <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 17 Jun 1997 09:22:19 +0000 (GMT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0664  Re: Pronunciation

[2]     From:   Simon Morgan-Russell <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 17 Jun 1997 08:54:59 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHAKSPER Digest - 13 Jun 1997 to 16 Jun 1997


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jonathan Hope <
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Date:           Tuesday, 17 Jun 1997 09:22:19 +0000 (GMT)
Subject: 8.0664  Re: Pronunciation
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0664  Re: Pronunciation

Anyone who wants to look into the issues to do with Elizabethan
pronunciation/accents should read the chapter on phonology in Charles
Barber's _Early Modern English_ - just reissued in revised form by
Edinburgh University Press.  It's very, very good.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Simon Morgan-Russell <
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Date:           Tuesday, 17 Jun 1997 08:54:59 -0400 (EDT)
Subject:        Re: SHAKSPER Digest - 13 Jun 1997 to 16 Jun 1997

"David Richman recalls a Feste whose Sir Topas sounded like Billy
Graham...  Ours sounded like Ernest Angsley, and it worked even better:
the actor got the cadences, the shrieks, and even the smacks to
Malvolio's forehead ("Be HEALED!") exactly right.  That raised an
interesting frisson, actually: since Malvolio was a "kind of Puritan",
Sir Topas must have been Church of England, come to correct him.  Our
fundamentalist Sir Topas was exactly the opposite of what the script
indicated."

In the National Theatre's production of *Bartholmew Fair*, Zeal-of-the
-Land Busy was made to bellow in the voice of the Rev. Ian Paisley,
which worked very well in the context of the play.  And I like the
"Americanization" of Queen Elizabeth and Rivers in the McKellen *Richard
III*, which produces the hierarchical snottiness felt by the Yorks
toward the interlopers by making reference to the "Edward VIII/Mrs.
Simpson" business.

I remember seeing a monologue by Julie Walters once, in which she was a
director addressing the cast of the amateur dramatic company "Pie Crust
Players'" production of *Hamlet*.  I saw it years ago, but bits of it
have lodged themselves in my head, like "Lines, people, lines! This is
Shakespeare . .  . it's not like Pinter where you can say what you like
as long as you leave enough gaps."  My favorite, though, is reference to
the use of regional accent: "Derek? Drop the Geordie accent for Hamlet,
love. It's not coming across."  [for non-brits, the Geordie accent is a
notoriously strong regional accent from the NorthEast of England:
Newcastle-upon-Tyne.]

I'm rambling.  But the recent interest in regionalism in British cinema
of late (*Trainspotting*, *Brassed Off* etc.) has made me think about
regionalism in the Elizabethan/Jacobean theatre-as it is seen (or heard)
through accent.  Jonson transcribes accent in *Bartholmew Fair* in the
west country's Puppy, the North's Northern, the Irish Whit.  Shakespeare
does it too-sometimes (shouldn't the Keepers in III.i of *3H6* speak
like Northern?).  What effect did this produce in an audience?  Was it
used only as a form of ridicule of provinciality, a mockery of regional
difference to promote a new urban identity in recent immigrants to the
City?  Or is there any room to suggest "celebration" of this variety of
accent?  London must have been fairly diverse in its population in terms
of regionalism and accent during this period, right?

Any thoughts?

Simon
 

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